BirthPrague, Czechoslovakia (1919)
DeathPrague, Czechoslovakia (1986)
Czech actor, puppeteer, and author of puppet theatre plays. In 1942, Josef Pehr graduated from the Department of Performing Arts at the Prague Conservatory. In 1944, although all the Czech theatres were closed by Nazi occupiers, he established a small amateur puppet theatre troupe, which provided him the opportunity to act as well as direct. After the war, he became an actor at the National Theatre in Prague. However, puppets remained an integral part of his artistic creations.
In the experimental studio of the National Theatre he staged several puppet productions in which the comic tradition of the folk puppet theatre blended with modern acting liberated from conventions. Later, he moved towards solo performances with glove puppets for child audience. In short, humorous scenes with his two puppet characters, Doggy and Pepíček, he presented simple situations with which children could easily identify so as to rediscover their relations with adults and at the same time reinforce their common ties. With his warm-hearted humour and his improvisational abilities Josef Pehr became very popular. In the 1950s, he experimented with the dramatic possibilities of combining live actors and puppets, thus anticipating further developments in the Czech puppet theatre.
Josef Pehr is the author of a number of puppet theatre plays, such as Guliver v Maňáskově (Gulliver in Glove Puppet Land, co-authored with Leo Spáčil), which were the most performed Czech puppet theatre plays for many years.
(See Czech Republic.)